Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study of microRNA helps scientists unlock secrets of immune cells

Date:
June 7, 2010
Source:
NIH/National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Summary:
With the rapid and continuous advances in biotechnology, scientists are better able to see inside the nucleus of a cell to unlock the secrets of its genetic material. However, what happens outside of the nucleus has, in many ways, remained a mystery. Now, researchers are closer to understanding how activity outside of the nucleus determines a cell's behavior.

With the rapid and continuous advances in biotechnology, scientists are better able to see inside the nucleus of a cell to unlock the secrets of its genetic material. However, what happens outside of the nucleus has, in many ways, remained a mystery. Now, researchers with the National Institutes of Health are closer to understanding how activity outside of the nucleus determines a cell's behavior. They looked at mouse immune cells and examined the types, amount, and activity of microRNAs, genetic components that help regulate the production of proteins.

Their study provides a map to the variety of microRNAs contained within mouse immune cells and reveals the complexity of cellular protein regulation. The study appears online in the journal Immunity.

An organism is made up of cells containing genetic material in the form of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) residing within the nucleus. An organism's entire collection of DNA is called its genome and consists of genes, short segments of DNA that code for proteins, and many long segments of DNA that do not contain genes. While each cell contains the entire genome, not all of a cell's genes are making proteins all of the time. Which genes are turned on and which are turned off, and when, determine the behavior of a cell, such as the type of cell it becomes, where it goes, and what it does.

"A plethora of cellular functions, ranging from development, differentiation, metabolism, and host defense, are impacted by protein levels," said Rafael Casellas, Ph.D., the study's principal investigator from the Genomics and Immunity Group of the NIH's National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). " We were interested in discovering how microRNAs contribute to the regulation of these functions."

A cell makes proteins through a process called transcription, in which genes are copied from DNA into messenger ribonucleic acid (RNA), which travels from the nucleus into the body of the cell. Not all RNA transcribed from DNA are messenger RNA, however. There are many other forms of RNA that do not code for proteins. MicroRNAs (miRNAs), for example, are small strands of RNA that modulate the production of proteins from messenger RNA, thereby helping to regulate protein levels in the cell. Previous studies have shown that cells are very sensitive to fluctuations in miRNA levels, which require tight control in order to regulate protein activity effectively.

In the current study, the NIH scientists used a new microsequencing technology to comprehensively identify all of the different miRNAs existing in mouse immune cells. In addition to increasing the number of known miRNAs, the scientists also discovered several cellular mechanisms that regulate miRNA abundance. The study found that some miRNA constructs exist in a dormant state within the nucleus until they receive signals from the epigenome to become active. The epigenome regulates transcription and comprises all of the non-genetic material in the nucleus. Other miRNAs, the researchers determined, are not hampered by these epigenetic mechanisms and are controlled simply through transcription. However, for some of these miRNAs, abundance depends upon the amount of target messenger RNA available in the cell.

According to NIAMS Director Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D., "The data generated from this study represent a useful tool for immunologists and cell biologists to use for future studies on functional aspects of the immune system and basic miRNA biology."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NIH/National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kuchen et al. Regulation of MicroRNA Expression and Abundance during Lymphopoiesis. Immunity, 2010; DOI: 10.1016/j.immuni.2010.05.009

Cite This Page:

NIH/National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. "Study of microRNA helps scientists unlock secrets of immune cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100605131811.htm>.
NIH/National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. (2010, June 7). Study of microRNA helps scientists unlock secrets of immune cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100605131811.htm
NIH/National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. "Study of microRNA helps scientists unlock secrets of immune cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100605131811.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins